As the pandemic stretches on, we are pausing to limit the spread of COVID-19 again. It’s been a difficult year and the holiday season will definitely be different as we adapt to keep our communities safe and healthy.
But nothing is more concerning for parents right now than having their children and teens sick or under-the-weather. You may find yourself wondering if this is a COVID infection, a case of the flu, or just a nasty common cold. With very young children, sometimes it’s difficult to even be sure of what symptoms your child is having. So what do you do?
What to Do If Your Child Needs Tested for COVID-19
While pediatric cases of COVID-19 are rare, it is absolutely necessary for families to be vigilant and to follow the advice of your primary care physician when assessing the well-being of your child. Children under 18 years of age account for only 5 to 7% of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The rate of recovery for children is high, but there were several tragic losses of children who suffered rare complications from the virus, especially this past spring.
Perhaps your child is asymptomatic, or you want to rule out the possibility of infection before visiting grandparents or family. It can actually be very tricky to obtain tests for children. The first line of inquiry is to contact your doctor and then the health department. Michigan Medicine, IHA, St. Joseph-Mercy Hospital, and many other large providers have strict guidelines on who is prioritized for testing.
Guidelines vary according to provider, but all are confirming longer wait times, and all providers require registration. Deciding where and when to test can be a complex process. When in doubt, just contact your doctor or the individual test site.
This article is a quick reference to obtain COVID-testing for your child. The majority of these providers offer low- or no-cost testing services — whether or not your child is symptomatic. Most facilities aren’t testing children unless they’re showing symptoms of COVID. The places below can test younger children, but testing sites for children younger than 10 years without symptoms is difficult. Also remember, the confirmed expert source for COVID-19 news, statistics, exposure tracking, and questions is the Washtenaw County Health Department.
Testing Resources for Children
2|42 Community Center
This facility offers low-cost or no-cost saliva testing. The drive thru is located at 2|42 Church parking lot. Please use the entrance with the sign “COVID Testing Today.” Follow the signs through the parking lot to join the end of the line.
Ascent Urgent Care
Sites Vary. Children 10 and up can be tested, some special conditions apply.
Testing locations will vary. Call or visit the website of your local CVS for more details. Registration.
Ypsilanti Urgent Care
301 W. Michigan Ave, Ste 100, Ypsilanti. 734-221-5440. urgentcareypsilanti.com. Hours vary.
What to Do if Your Child Requires Testing
Should your child require a COVID test, what can you do to support yourself, your child, and your family during this stressful time? According to zerotothrive.org and the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry, communication and looking after your own mental health are key.
“First, be curious. What has your child heard and what does she think? Sometimes when young children are trying to make sense of things they will come up with an explanation that is not only wrong, but may make them feel worse. For example, does your child think that everyone who gets COVID-19 will die? Note: this is not correct. In fact, the risk of serious illness or death among the general population is still low, and the risk for children is particularly low.” (Washtenaw.org)
Before, during, or after testing, or while your child is ill, remember to stress the health rules; washing/sanitizing hands often, keeping hands away from the face and out of the mouth, covering your cough and sneezes, and staying at a distance from others are important ground rules. Getting enough sleep and stress-free time, and eating a healthy balanced diet and staying hydrating with water, fresh juices, and non-caffeinated beverages are also important to maintaining a strong and functional immune system.
Involve your child in planning fun coordinated routines for their “new normal.” Make a calendar and hang it in a height-appropriate location. Stuck for ideas? Your children will definitely have some suggestions on together activities. “D-E-A-R- Drop Everything and Read!” sounds a bit more exciting than it is, yet, once you and your brood are cozily ensconced in good books, the literary excitement may just surprise all the family. Active play outdoors and indoors can be a respite, helps elevate mood, and boosts the immune system too.
Counting squirrels, looking for animal tracks, or making homemade treats for the birds are fun, green, and distracting activities to get your children out into the fresh air. City living? No problem, there are always plenty of squirrels and birds around most neighborhoods, even in winter. With snow pants and boots, the playgrounds are still a good diversion in the snow. A quick burst in winter air can be just the ticket for a peaceful evening. Waiting for results is difficult. Diversions can help you and your child both manage the stress while you wait.
Resources for Safe and Healthy Diversions
- Make and Distribute Bird Treats: with peanut butter or without!
- Take a Winter Walk: visit a new park and enjoy some together time.
- Library Activities: Ann Arbor District Library’s contactless pick up will resume on December 9. Check out the new procedure for borrowing materials here.
- Ypsilanti District Library offers contactless material borrow, and online activities for children. Check out YDL’s Instagram for events.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and Happy Holidays!